Category Archives: language

Black And White Vernacular In American Sign Language

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, cross-posted from Sociological Images

Frances Stead Sellers at the Washington Post has a fascinating account of the differences in Black and White American sign language. Sellers profiles a 15-year-old girl named Carolyn who in 1968 was transferred from the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind to an integrated school, only to learn that she couldn’t understand much of what was being signed in class.

White American sign language used more one-handed signs, a smaller signing space, stayed generally lower, and included less repetition.  Some of the signs were subtlety different, while others were significantly different.

“Well-dressed”:


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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Barbara Jordan

By Andrea Plaid

Barbara Jordan. Via fashionmodeldirectory.com

Watching last night’s vice presidential debates, I thought about which woman I’d could easily see shredding Congressman Paul Ryan’s arguments with as much–if not more–aplomb than Vice President Biden. Of the many I thought of, I came up with the late congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Miss Major, The Revolutionary Mom-In-Chief, And The Racialized Politics Of Teaching Chinese To Black And Latin@ Kids

By Andrea Plaid

I lucked out in following people (and people who follow people) who post about issues concerning trans*/gender-variant and genderqueer/intersex (TGI) people, especially TGI people of color–as well as TGI people themselves–in the Tumblrverse. One trans* heroine of color reblogged on the R’s Tumblr is Miss Major (pictured below),

Courtesy: womenwhokickass

who, according to womenwhokickass:

  • was at the Stonewall uprisings in ’69, and became politicized in the aftermath at Attica. She has been an activist and advocate in her community for over forty years, mentoring and empowering many of today’s transgender leaders to stand tall, step into their own power, and defend their human rights, from coast to coast.
  • testified at to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland about the abuses of transgender women of color in and out of the Prison Industrial Complex in the US.

Speaking of women of color kicking ass, Racialicious homie Tami Winfrey Harris went in on the “white feminist chattering class” in her Clutch magazine post on how they seriously missed the point on why FLOTUS Michelle Obama calling herself “Mom-In-Chief” is a revolutionary act:

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‘Ain’t Is A Real Word’: The Rise Of The MelaNated Writers Collective [Culturelicious]

Members of the MelaNated Writers Collective. Courtesy: Kristina F. Robinson

By Guest Contributor Kristina K. Robinson

In the few years preceding my acceptance into a Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, I had been a Katrina refugee, had a baby, grieved the death of his father and more. I had a thick skin and a lot to say. I couldn’t think of a better time to dedicate myself to my writing. I felt prepared to be critiqued. I was self-aware and detached from taking criticism of my work personally. I had done this as an undergraduate; it was all constructive; I was ready.

A friend of mine from college, already waist-deep in an MFA program in New York, warned me …

“I was fine, till the day this guy said my work was didactic and particularly concerned with victimhood. I cried afterwards. They are going to get you,” she said.

We laughed and I waited for my turn.

It came. A rare poem of mine that features dialect, received the royal treatment from a professor. She decided to take command of the workshop by asking if anyone would like to discuss the dialect. I was aware of the consequences of writing a poem filled with dialect for a majority-white audience. I was prepared for all the most critical things I thought I would hear.

I was ready to listen to people debate whether or not it is acceptable to write something that is hard for white people to understand. I was ready to hear that a person who spoke that way wasn’t someone they imagined would have high-brow ideas or spend time meditating the on the meaning of life. I was even prepared to hear someone say that dialect didn’t belong in poetry.

I was not prepared to hear this:

“I’m going to go out on a limb,” the professor began, “and say that I found the dialect phony, and therefore I didn’t believe the rest of the poem. The dialect isn’t even consistent, sometimes this speaker says gon’, sometimes she says gonna’…didn’t buy it.”

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Interview: Fabio Fernandes on We See A Different Frontier Project [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

Courtesy The Future Fire

Earlier this month, I posted about The Future Fire’s PeerBackers project, We See A Different Frontier, an anthology that seeks to address a large hole in SFF: the voices of people from formerly colonized regions. So I caught up with Fabio Fernandes to talk about this project.

Fernandes, as you may or may not know, is a Brazilian SFF writer who makes a living as a professor of Creative Writing and translator at a university in São Paulo. I follow him on Twitter, and he blogs at The Cogsmith.

JG: How did the anthology idea come about?

FF: I had been thinking of editing an anthology of Latin American stories for a while now. By the end of 2009, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer invited me to be assistant editor for Latin America in their awesome Best American Fantasy collection. Unfortunately, the BAF ended in 2010, just before the volume four, which would have been my debut. In 2011, however, I started thinking that I could at the very least try to edit an anthology of Brazilian science fiction in English to make it available to the English-speaking public. I managed to get a few stories, but most of the authors couldn’t translate them neither rewriter them in English, and I was too busy to do it all by myself. Then I saw an ad in the Outer Alliance list published by Djibril al-Ayad, creator and editor of The Future Fire, asking for guest editors for two special issues. I saw that as an opportunity–but this time not only for Brazil or Latin America. I thought I could shout out louder. So I drafted a project about colonialism and sent it his way. He liked it and here we are now.

JG: What is your vision for it?

FF: I thought of the particular place humanity is in right now. We are still at war in many places around the world, but something is a-changing: the socialist Second World has pretty much ended almost 25 years ago, and the First World and the Third World are, if not changing places, are definitely suffering major alterations in their structure. I think it’s past time we discuss that in our fiction, and what fiction suits best the discussion of the zeitgeist–the spirit of times, our times and the times to come–than science fiction? A few authors are doing it now (Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds, and Ian McDonald come to mind–but guess what? All male Anglos. I want to make clear I have absolutely nothing against them or their works–I love them all, and I find them true trailblazers. I just wanted to see more people from different countries, speaking different languages, from different ethnicities, genders, writing about the same issues. Or similar issues from their own POVs.

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The Wormiest of Cans: who gets to be “mixed race”?

A few days ago on Facebook I watched two community activists have a throwdown over the phrase “mixed race.”

It began when Activist X posted a link to this article about the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and noted with some irritation that despite the festival’s claims to inclusivity, there were no Latin@s mentioned in the article. X asked: if Latin@ people are the largest group of multiracial people in the Americas and the festival is supposed to be open to everybody, why weren’t Latin@ people included? A few people agreed with X, and some people who had been at the festival said that they thought Heidi Durrow and the festival were great, but that they could see X’s point.

Enter Activist Y: after expressing some trepidation, Y said that the festival was using the term “mixed race” or “multiracial” to refer to people who had parents of two or more different racial categorisations. Activist Y said that if your whole family shared the same ethnic identity, then you were not mixed in the way the festival intended.

Dear Racializens, I am sure you can imagine what happened next: a veritable Facebook wall brawl — albeit one that was highly intellectual and restrained. Most people sided with X (it was X’s wall to begin with) and Y, after making several long attempts to explain themselves, eventually left in a digital huff.

This exchange brought back some of the most difficult writing that I have ever done on Racialicious: where readers challenged my right to call myself, as a mixed race person with parents of two different races, mixed in a separate way from those who are mixed race but share the same identity as their whole family, for e.g. folks who are mestizo, Creole, African American, Metis, Peranakan…

(From here on in I will refer to people who come from mixed lineage as MRs, and people who have parents of two different and separate racial categorisations as MR2s.)

So here is one of the most important things I have learned from all my years of toiling in the anti-racist trenches here at Racialicious: when you are talking about race with anti-racist people of colour, you are speaking from a place of pain, to a place of pain. (Ok obviously we are about more than pain, but pain is always on the table.) Many of us come to anti-racism through struggle. We are used to having things taken away from us, and we turn to anti-racism to try and arm ourselves against the corrosion of racism. We are sensitive, and we come by it honestly.

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Excerpt: Wanda Sykes Shuts Chris Rock Down


Chris Rock seemed to be, indirectly, suggesting there were or could be laws against Tract Morgan’s right to free speech, which there aren’t. Morgan had the legal right to say what he did, just as the millions who stand against him, including Sykes, have the right to condemn his speech, and even to classify it as hate speech, which, as the Westboro Baptist Church (aka, “God Hates Fags,”) proved in the supreme Court earlier this year, is still protected by our Constitution.

Wanda Sykes response was simple and elegant, and she opted to not mention Chris Rock by name.

“Ok, piss’d reading, “I don’t want 2 live n a world where Tracy can’t say…” I Do! U Keep the world, just break me off an evolved country,” Sykes tweeted Friday night.

- From a post in The New Civil Rights Movement, June 11

The West Was Lost, by Beth Aileen Lameman and Myron A. Lameman: A Review

By Guest Contributor Ay-leen The Peacemaker, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

Native steampunk has been presented in many different ways and, like the comic Finder (which had been reviewed here a couple of weeks ago), The West Was Lost is another drawn tale that speaks in layers and plays with the concept of linear storytelling.

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